We have often heard and read about giant stars dying violently in deep space. Have you ever wondered what this would look like? How will a star appear near its end from Earth? We may finally have an answer. For a first time for astronomy, researchers were able to watch the death of a giant red star explode in real time using ground-based telescopes. They saw the star located 120 million light-years from Earth in the NGC 5731 galaxy self-destruct in a dramatic event and collapse into a Type-2 supernova.
Scientists said that this star was 10 times more massive than the Sun before the explosion. It exploded after burning through the hydrogen, helium and other elements at its core. Before observing this phenomenon, astronomers believed that red supergiant stars were relatively cool before exploding in a supernova.
The research, published January 6 in the Astrophysical Journal, marks an important milestone in the study of stars’ death throws – the moments when they explode in violent explosions.
“This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do before they die,” study lead author Wynn Jacobson-Gallen said in a statement. “For the first time ever, we saw a red supergiant star explode.”
According to a CNN report, the unusual activity of the star was first detected by astronomers 130 days ago. The University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy Pan-STARRS Telescope detected bright radiation in the summer of 2020. Later that year, researchers observed a supernova at the same location. Their observations showed that when the star exploded there was material around it.
Astronomers aim to use the research to look at the universe to see more stars emitting radiation and see if it signals the imminent death of that star. The characteristics of stars are closely linked to the characteristics of planetary systems. As a result, the study of the birth, life and death of stars is central to the field of astronomy.
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